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Dominican Republic Safety

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How true is it that Dominican Republic resorts doesn’t allow guests to leave the resort and to explore the island?

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This was about 10 years ago, but, we were told that we COULD but that we shouldn't- we did anyway. We weren't going on any planned excursions though, just exploring on our own. That being said, I wouldn't do it again. I didn't feel distinctly unsafe but I didn't exactly feel great, to be honest. 

Our resort also had a dude with a machine gun at the edge of it, telling us not to continue because they wouldn't be able to protect us, and that there were dangerous people in the jungle? But then we heard that people started that rumor bc there are rich people living in there and don't want to be bothered, so who knows if we were in any real danger or not lol.

(On our trip we also saw another guy with a machine gun walking towards a goat... not sure what happened to that goat. But lots of machine guns lol.)

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